Cabane de Moiry to Zinal, Walker’s Haute Route Stage 10

This stunning stage starts with views of the Moiry Glacier and ends with a panorama of glacier capped peaks above Zinal, with a hillside walk above the turquoise Moiry Lake in between.

Day 10 –Cabane de Moiry to Zinal

Based on the Cicerone guidebook, “Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker’s Haute Route,” by Kev Reynolds

Distance : 14k

Elevation Gain: 462m

Elevation Loss: 1612m

Time: 8.5 hours with frequent photo stops, a short lunch break at the pass and a slow descent into Zinal due to bad knees.

Woke to the beautiful clear skies the weather forecast predicted. Now we could see what we had missed the day before. The Cabane de Moiry, perched on a cliff above the Moiry glacier, has awesome views, putting you almost too close to the scene to capture it in photos.

On the long mostly downhill walk to Zinal we first retrace the track towards the glacier lakes. Unlike the previous day, however, heading down in the clear brisk morning air we can see where we are going with the fabulous views we should have had yesterday behind us.  

Once down the switchbacks and across the ridge we soon take the trail that heads across the hillside towards the Moiry dam. The track rolls along the grassy hillside high above Moiry Lake, the sunlit water an amazing turquoise. The occasional cow blocks our path.

Nearing the dam you can see the trail that zigzags up the grassy slope, turning into a dirt track near the pass. The grade is generally not too steep and frequent shortcuts offer a faster, steeper route.

Once at the Col de Sorebois (2847m) the promised magical views of the opposing glacier topped peaks appear. Truly one of the prettiest panoramas of the trip that is best seen in mid to late-afternoon light.

Between the pass and Zinal is a 1200m descent. The first part to Sorbois is an uninteresting walk under the ski lifts on a bare hillside. At Sorbois there is the possibility to take the teleferique (cable car) to Zinal unless you are unlucky enough to arrive on a Monday or Tuesday at the end of the hiking season. In 2019 this was after August 26th. This being a Tuesday we walked the 800m down to Zinal.

From Sorbois there are two routes to Zinal – a steep descent through the woods or a more gentle-on- the- knee descent along another uninteresting road. The only plus is the amazing mountain views in front of you that improve in the softening afternoon light. Near the bottom of the road we took a grassy path to the left marked Zinal that followed the river to the center of town.

Sleeping and Dining in Zinal

La Pointe de Zinal is a modern hotel with comfortable sized rooms decorated in a tasteful cow motif. I wondered if I could sleep with a portrait of a cow staring at us but was too tired for the large cow eyes to have much effect on me. The bathroom is typical Euro small but functional and light on amenities – hairdryer, soap, shampoo.

The hotel has a restaurant and bar with a peasant terrace. Views of the mountains are mostly obstructed by trees and buildings.

Dinner in the hotel restaurant started with a mushroom panna cotta amuse bouche. For starters we had the tomato trio with a tofu burrata – lovely tomatoes but I would have preferred real cheese. Don’s egg and mushroom casserole was more of a rich soup than a casserole but tasty. For mains the lamb chops served with ratatouille and roasted potatoes and the salmon pasta all beautifully done.

The breakfast buffet was a smallish selection of quality offerings – cheese and cold cuts, nice bread, yogurt, cereal, a bowl of whole fruit, a platter of sliced fruit, hard boiled eggs, juice, coffee from a machine and excellent flakey croissants.

Zinal, with a sizable grocery store, is also a good place to stock up on supplies.

September 3, 2019

For links to all the posts in this series see the Chamonix to Zermatt page.